By Marsha M. Brown
GIG LINE is about our veterans. It’s all about bringing to the forefront reminders of what our service men and women have sacrificed for us and that their service should never be taken for granted. We, who are privileged to live as Americans in these great United States, should take every opportunity presented to us to celebrate those who have served and who we depend on first to protect the security of our nation.
GIG LINE articles were initiated in March of 2012, as a dedication to our veterans and their families. When we named the article, we thought that military members, both past and present, would immediately recognize the term ‘gig line’ as the straight line of buttons, belt buckle and zipper on a military uniform and be compelled to read it. It never occurred to us that anyone would think the column related not to veterans but rather to fishing until this past week…but that’s OK too as long as people read it!
Articles I’ve written about have generated communications from veterans as well as from those who aren’t. I appreciate the emails, phone calls and conversations in the grocery store check out lines. Those exchanges of ideas cover the spectrum including everything from compliments to positive and negative comments regarding the VA and even heartfelt expressions of disappointment from veterans who feel our country has let them down. Sometimes a voice over the phone or a look on veterans face brings tears to my eyes.
True admiration, respect and appreciation for our veterans is everywhere and it makes me sad to think that any veteran would not feel it. Perhaps some veterans, especially those who served in Vietnam, will never get past how they were treated by much of our nation. When they came home exhausted, depleted and in need of a warm embrace and respect, they were greeted with protests, spit and name calling. Perhaps nothing we can do will ever make up for that no matter how long it has been or how sorry we are for the disrespectful actions of others. But through GIG LINE, the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council, celebratory promotions and veteran fundraising events throughout the County, we are sincerely trying.
The ‘what if’s” and the “shoulda…woulda…coulda’s”…summarize the times we missed doing the right thing or enough things to lift and salute our veterans. We have to live and learn from our mistakes and strive to make things better today and for tomorrow for our veterans everywhere.
I talk to people all the time about veterans; I refer them to Rhonda Creef our Dare County Veteran Officer (252) 475-5604; I tell them about personnel to contact and sources of help that’s out there at the Hampton Medical Center (VA Hospital – Hampton, VA); I encourage them to apply for and get their VA Medical Health Card; I tell them about our Veteran Advisory Council; I encourage them to read GIG LINE for announcements of veteran related current events on the Outer Banks, etc.; I try with all my heart to entice everyone whether they have served or not to get on the ‘band wagon’ with us to support our veterans in every way possible. In turn, I relay to veteran representatives the frustrations veterans feel waiting for follow up to correspondence and final answers regarding their claims.
The veterans qualified to receive benefits and/or entitlements, medical tests, procedures and prescriptions too expensive to pay for out of pocket are grateful…very grateful. However, many veterans who have served our country in Vietnam where the dastardly chemical Agent Orange was repeatedly dropped in their midst are still seeking compensation for health conditions directly related to their exposure yet very slow to come through. Some wonder if they’ll ever see compensation, entitlement or benefit for the ills imposed on them. For some, it remains to be seen.
If YOU, the reader of this article, have served our country, whether during a conflict or not, YOU are a VETERAN! I hear all the time that many of you who have served but who may not have served overseas feel that you are not deserving of special recognition or public honor. Please, please understand that you served our country…you served our nation…you protected our freedoms…you stood for our flag…you saluted our stars and our stripes…you pledged allegiance…you stood for liberty and justice for all Americans…you prayed for comrades called into harms way…you trained to be ready if you were called upon too…you wore the armor of the Unites States military and you ARE a veteran too!
Please help me and GIG LINE help our veterans; stop by our Dare County Veterans Advisory Council booth at the OBX Seafood Festival and encourage fellow veteran friends to provide their contact info; attend and support fundraisers for Wounded Warrior Project like the one coming up in November in Avon…help us spread the word to stand up for our true blue American heroes…our military…active duty, retired and reserve veterans. Buy an American flag and post it at your house, show that military and veteran support is alive and well in Dare County!
Next week I’ll write about the recent announcement at the American Legion Post 26 Ft. Raleigh meeting by Jeff Pearson, Coordinator of the Rural Health Care Initiative – Hampton Medical Center and some other things you’ll find interesting. Until then, be happy, be safe and be proud and stay tuned…